Category Archives: Miscellaneous History

Sunday World article on UCD Student Bar (1988)

Great find. Dermott Hayes interviews UCD Student Bar legend Seamus Boylan about the 1988 Fresher’s Week and they look at what has changed from Hayes’ days there in the 1970s.

Sunday World article on UCD Student Bar (1988)


Characters in Conversation: Stembridge and Dungan reminisce about 1970s Belfield

Great discussion. Politics, comedy, lectures, music and the general life of 1970s Belfield all feature.

Characters in Conversation: Stembridge and Dungan reminisce about 1970s Belfield

For young lads from Limerick and Meath, the Belfield of the 70s was packed with Friday night debates, student societies, classes chosen because they weren’t at 9 am, bedsit living and 2-bar heaters, avoiding SRC meetings, and the Canterbury Tale…

Listen to Gerard Stembridge and Myles Dungan reminisce on their undergraduate days in “the new” Belfield campus of the 1970s as part of Characters in Conversation.

Listen here.

UCD Ag Science Society (1976 – 1980)

Thanks to John for sending in these pictures. If you have any pictures or memorabilia from your time in UCD, send it to ucdhiddenhistory(at) Please!

A brief word from John on the background to the protest:

We called the demo because the UCD Authorities were slow in opening the ‘New’ Ag Block as they had promised. Due to that, 3rd & 4th year Ag students used to have most of their lectures in The Albert College (Now DCU) up until May 1979. The march left from The Albert, went down through O’Connell St past TCD, Leeson St , Ranelagh, Clonskeagh into Belfield in March 1979. The New Block opened in the Autumn of 1979. We qualified in 1980 and there was a large lack of jobs back then also

a) Cartoon from Feb. 1977. b) Invitation to AG Science Society Xmas party (n.d.)

a) Cartoon of Ag students singing in bar. b) Ag science society UCD membership card. c) Cartoon of student bar. d) AGS flyer for Wednesday dance. e) UCD Summer Exams 1980 notice


UCD SC flyer to welcome AG students to Belfield. They moved from Earlsfort Terrace in 1980.

February 1979 protest march.


Image of crowd at 1979 AGS protest march.


Report of march. (Student newspaper?)

The Irish Times. 21/02/79

Irish Press. 20/02/79

UCD Rag Week – KKK

An interesting find on the British Pathe site! A 60second clip of UCD students outside Earlsfort Terrace performing a “skit” on the Ku Klux Klan during Rag Week in the 1930s/40s (?).

Click the image below to see the full movie.

Click to view movie.

‘Twelve Apostles’ Well’ – Buried under the Stillorgan Dual – Carriageway

The Irish Times, 7 July 1930 (The Irishman's Diary, p.4)

Many thanks to John O’Dowd for spotting the above reference in The Irish Times.

He even got in contact with Aidan Grannell, Head of Buildings and Services, who retrieved the old estate maps of Belfield. Through these they was able to discover that the Twelve Apostles’ Well is buried pretty much dead centre under the dual carriageway, opposite the Montrose Hotel.

Censorship in UCD, 1962

Conor James McKinney from T.C.D. Miscellany has very kindly sent me on a very interesting article that was written in the magazine in 1962 by Anthony Clare about the censorship regime in UCD at that time.

You should be able to read it by clicking the picture below and zooming in.

T.C.D. Miscellany, 1962.

1. UCD Legends Debunked: Sócrates

Debunking the intriguing claim that Sócrates played for the UCD Reserve team in the 1970s.

The origins of this long established urban legend are hazy. However, the basic ‘facts’ of the story are as follows: Sócrates, the famous Brazilian soccer player, studied medicine in Dublin in the late 1970s and during his time here played for the reserve team of University College Dublin (UCD).

There are many variations of the story with some placing Sócrates at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) or even the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI).

It’s a feel good anecdote that has been doing the rounds for at least three decades. The story is so quirky and original that most people take it at face value and it’s turned up as a question on many a table quiz.

An article in The Irish Times from 1986 is the earliest known reference to this alluring tale. It states as fact that Sócrates played for Shelbourne Football Club during his time studying in the “College of Technology, Kevin Street”. [1]

It should be said that Sócrates did indeed study medicine while in college but he graduated from the ‘Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto’ in São Paulo.

In 2000, the urban legend was given a new breath of life after a question was sent into the Guardian’s soccer ‘Knowledge Department’. The newspaper was asked to investigate the claim that “Brazilian footballer Sócrates … spent some of his student years in Dublin … and (that) he only managed to make the UCD reserve team”. [2]

The question was answered by the late Brendan McKenna, former Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Press Officer, who confirmed that “Sócrates did play for UCD … sometime in the 70s.” and by Gerry Callan of The Irish Star who added that Sócrates played only for the reserves because he couldn’t make the first team’s Saturday games.

Sócrates in Fiorentina colours.

Sócrates in Fiorentina colours.

The Guardian gave the story yet more veracity in 2002 by incorporating new information from a reader that Sócrates quit the team after only “a couple of games because the coach and manager at the time, Dr Terry O’Neill, insisted that he quit smoking”. [3] The Mirror also ran a story on Sócrates during this time with the opening line, “Here’s one to stump your mates with. Which Brazilian legend played football for UCD reserves?”.[4]

The programme for the UCD – St. Patrick’s Athletic game in 2003 featured an article on the Sócrates tale.[5] It debunked the claim that he played for UCD but went on to allege that Sócrates studied medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) in 1976. The article also asserted that he went to the RCSI’s trials for their Collingwood Cup team but decided to concentrate on his studies instead after seeing the poor football abilities of his potential teammates.

The China Daily, an English Language newspaper published in the People’s Republic of China, ran an article in 2006 that described Sócrates as “an alumni of the College of Surgeons in Dublin”. [6]

The legend has recently been given new legs by the addition that Sócrates also won the Sigerson cup, the championship of Higher Education Gaelic football in Ireland. This allegation has been posted as fact on various Irish sport Internet forums.

The Sunday Tribune in 2006 did its best to sink the urban legend with the article “Will Sócrates Myth Ever Be Put To Bed?” [7] and in its 2008 Sports Trivia Christmas Quiz. [8] But with websites such as, still affirming that Sócrates “spent time in Ireland and turned out for the University College Dublin (UCD) team”[9] ; the legend isn’t going anywhere soon.

Belfield Park

Belfield Park (1971-2007)

Billy McGrath, who played first team soccer for UCD from 1973 to 1977 (and later for a short time with Pegasus, UCD’s graduate soccer team), can confirm that Sócrates never played for UCD – “At the time the UCD first team was playing in the League of Ireland B division so if he was playing for UCD – and not good enough for the first team – he would have been in the Leinster Senior League”. [10]

(But what would Billy know? He was probably too busy watching Pele play hurling for Na Fianna in Ballymun during the Brazilian’s time studying marketing in DCU in 1975-1977. The reality that the college did not exist at the time has no bearing on the facts.)

So there you go. Unfortunately, there is no basis whatsoever to the legend that Sócrates played for UCD and it is just too good to be true. Sócrates has himself admitted that he hasn’t even visited Dublin!

[1] Peter Byrne, “World Cup Stars Played in League”, The Irish Times, June 3 1986
[2] Sean Ingle, “Knowledge Unlimited”, The Guardian, 13 September 2000
[3]Sean Ingle and Scott Murray, “Shooting from the hip”, The Guardian 10 January 2002
[4] James Morgan, “The Great Philosopher; A doctor who smoked 20-a-day and led a player’s revolt, Socrates truly was the thinking man’s footballer.” The Mirror, May 27 2002
[6] Anon, “Smoke on the bench not music to FIFA’s ears”, China Daily, June 15 2006
[7] Enda McEvoy and Kieran Shannon, “Will Socrates Myth Ever Be Put To Bed?, Sunday Tribune, April 16, 2006
[8] Enda McEvoy, “Enda McEvoy’s Really Cool Sports Trivia Quiz”, Sunday Tribune, December 21, 2008
[9] Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira Biography, (Accessed 15 June 2009)
[10] Billy McGrath, email to author, 15 June 2009